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Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant, Berwick, Pennsylvania

STATUS:  In progress with opposition

TYPE: Nuclear

OPPOSITION:  Environmental groups (unspecified in source materials)

PROSPECTS:  Indeterminate 

BACKGROUND:  PPL Corporation filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on October 10, 2008 for a license to build and operate a new nuclear plant under consideration near Berwick, PA.  The Bell Bend nuclear plant would be built near the company’s existing two-unit Susquehanna nuclear power plant.  The plant would produce 1,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes. Early estimates by PPL are that the project will cost $15 billion to construct, including escalation, financing costs, initial nuclear fuel, contingencies and reserves.  NRC review of Bell Bend’s Combined License Application is expected to take three to four years.  However, it appears the project’s environmental impact analysis is behind schedule. 

In addition to the license application, PPL has submitted application to the U.S. Department of Energy for a federal loan guarantee.  According to PPL, if the plant is built “it would create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of new permanent jobs, and would increase the contribution PPL and its employees already are making to the economic health of the Berwick area and the surrounding region.” The Bell Bend license application includes the U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) advanced technology from AREVA of France.  It is reported that some twenty-two environmental groups are opposing such reactors with this technology and design and are urging Energy Secretary Steven Chu to suspend the loan guarantee process for such plants.  The groups wrote to Secretary Chu, stating “It would, at best, be grossly premature to provide a ‘conditional’ loan guarantee to any project that currently presents extraordinary risks to taxpayers, that currently suffers from serious and identified safety deficiencies, that uses a design that may not be certified, and that may not be eligible to receive a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.” The groups further warned that “risking taxpayer dollars on such projects at this time would be evidence of negligence given the preponderance of evidence that the EPR and the specific projects identified face substantial and perhaps insurmountable hurdles to licensing, construction, and operation.”

SOURCES:  Bell Bend http://www.bellbend.com/benefits+of+bell+bend.htm;
http://www.bellbend.com/faqs.htm; http://www.bellbend.com/NR/rdonlyres/AA17A13E-8FE1-47C6-9C78-CBC4F7EF40B0/0/BellBendHandout.pdf; http://www.bellbend.com/;
PPL web site http://www.pplweb.com/newsroom/newsroom+quick+links/archived+news/2008/october/101008+Bell+Bend+Application.htm;
NRC http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/bell-bend.html
Environment News Service (http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2010/2010-01-06-01.asp)

Last Updated:  November 2, 2010